Dr. Issam Hijjawi Bassalat, Palestinian activist in Scotland and a medical doctor, is today a Palestinian political prisoner in British jails. On Wednesday, 13 October, he is going back to court (virtually) in a request for bail. His bail applications have been denied repeatedly in the past — despite the length of his detention — and now, new circumstances make it more urgent than ever that he be released.
On 13 October at 12 noon (7 am Eastern time, 1 pm in central Europe, 2 pm in Palestine), Issam’s bail application will be heard at the Magistrates Court, Dungannon Courthouse, in the occupied north of Ireland. Just like when political prisoners go to court in person, it is important for people to show up in court to show their support and solidarity and make it clear that this case is the subject of national and international scrutiny.
Please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive the link to attend the virtual court hearing on Wednesday, 13 October. Note that during the court hearing, please keep your sound off and display your name, and do not make an audio or video recording of the hearing. Let’s show up in court for the release of Dr. Issam Hijjawi Bassalat!
One day before the court hearing, you can join the Twitterstorm to publicize Issam’s case! Palestinian virtual collectives and social media action groups are urging people everywhere to Tweet #FreeIsamHijjawi on Tuesday, 12 October:
Tuesday, 12 October 2021
9 am Pacific – 12 pm Eastern – 5 pm British time – 6 pm central Europe – 7 pm Palestine
- Get sample tweets: https://bit.ly/freedrissam
- Use the hashtag #FreeIssamHijjawi for all of your posts during the action!
Who is Dr. Issam Hijjawi Bassalat?
Dr. Issam Hijjawi Bassalat is a Palestinian political prisoner in British jails. He has been targeted for his commitment to international solidarity and as a political means of repressing both the Palestinian and Irish movements.
Alongside his fellow detainees, the Saoradh 9, he was detained in “Operation Arbacia,” a series of political arrests carried out by British authorities. Today, he remains jailed in the Maghaberry high security prison, in the British-occupied north of Ireland. We call for the immediate release of Dr. Issam Hijjawi Bassalat and all political prisoners in British jails.
He was targeted by an MI5 infiltrator, Dennis McFadden, to attend a bugged meeting with members of Saoradh, an Irish republican socialist political party that advocates for an end to British colonialism and a united Ireland. He was detained on 22 August at Heathrow Airport on the same day that nine members of Saoradh were also arrested by British forces. Throughout the past year, his bail applications have been repeatedly denied, despite serious health issues and the damaging effects of incarceration on his and his fellow detainees’ well-being.
Dr. Hijjawi Bassalat, 62, came to the UK in 1995 to work as a doctor, and he is a well-known, respected member of the Palestinian community in Scotland and the father of four. He previously served as chair of the Association of Palestinian Communities in Scotland (today, the Scottish Palestinian Society) and has been active throughout Europe in advocating for Palestinian rights to return, freedom and justice, speaking frequently at meetings, conferences and events.
Infiltration and MI5 Attacks
“Operation Arbacia” sprang from the decades-long infiltration of Irish republican movements by MI5 agent Dennis McFadden, detailed in a Channel 4 News report. Issam was entrapped into a meeting with McFadden on false pretenses after he was told by British officials that he had to pick up his daughter’s passport renewal in Belfast instead of Glasgow. There, he was invited to what was presented to him as a Saoradh meeting to discuss international solidarity and the Palestinian cause; he had previously spoken to a Saoradh Ard Fheis (annual meeting) about Palestine, an open, public event.
He is charged with “preparatory acts of terrorism” under the 2006 Terrorism Act, based on his attendance at this meeting engineered by MI5. Issam’s solicitor, Gavin Booth, has seen the transcript of the meeting Issam was compelled to attend, noting that “Everything that’s contained within the transcripts and the recordings is about Palestine, is about peaceful and democratic change. There’s nothing in the transcripts from Dr Bassalat that would support violence in any way.” Despite these facts and the presumption of innocence that is supposed to apply, he has been held on remand for a full year.
Targeting Issam’s Bank Account and Medical License
In addition to his ongoing, unjust imprisonment, pre-trial detention and denied bail, Dr. Hijjawi Bassalat has suffered further injustice. During his detention, his medical care was initially delayed, and then after he finally received necessary surgery, he was denied pain relief and proper therapy. Despite his condition, he continued to be denied bail.
His bank account was frozen, denying him access to funds and creating even more inconvenience and trauma for his family — again, all while he ostensibly retains the presumption of innocence. Issam’s licence to practise medicine was suspended by the General Medical Council (GMC) on 26 October 2020 after the charges filed against him, despite the fact that he has been convicted of nothing and that the charges in no way relate to his fitness to practise medicine or his treatment of his patients.
Issam is being targeted as a Palestinian in an attempt to justify the MI5 infiltration of public political parties and to smear both the Palestinian and Irish struggles through entrapment and misrepresentation. The presumption of innocence is being cast aside for political gamesmanship. We urge the immediate release of Dr. Issam Hijjawi Bassalat and all political prisoners, including the Saoradh 9, detained in British jails.
Video: Channel 4 Report on MI5 Entrapment and Infiltration
Video Webinar on Dr. Issam Hijjawi Bassalat and the Saoradh 9